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Yasmin at Kong Heng Newseum

I am not going to pretend that I have watched all of Yasmin Ahmad’s films. I have only seen two of her films, Talentime and Rabun. I watched Talentime when I was an undergraduate at USM. The film had just come out and it blew my mind. I cried.

The script was well-written, the music was beautiful, and the vision and message that Yasmin Ahmad wanted to convey through the film were all incredible. The story felt genuine and relatable, and it was simple yet profoundly thought-provoking.

I tried to watch Rabun recently, in my 30s, when it was available on Netflix. I couldn’t finish it. Not because the film sucked, but because the sound was too low for me to enjoy. It is possible that the film was not properly mastered for Netflix.

Realising that I wouldn’t be able to experience Rabun at its full potential, I stopped watching the film. So I have only watched one film from Yasmin Ahmad so far. Not two.

But that one film was enough to convince me that Yasmin Ahmad was a genius. People often told me her films were mostly controversial and that’s why she was famous. This is partly true.

According to The Guardian, Sepet (2004) was initially banned in Malaysia, until Yasmin Ahmad agreed to make eight cuts.

Her films were deemed controversial because she had the courage to discuss difficult topics, even taboo subjects, with ease in the form of a cinematic experience. And she did it beautifully.

Whether or not they were controversial, Yasmin Ahmad’s works were important. They still are. They represented the diversity of Malaysian society. Through her films, she showed that people of different races and religions could love, laugh, and live together in harmony.

And, of course, like many of you, I watched some of her television commercials she did for Petronas. Especially those raya ads.

We visited Yasmin at Kong Heng Newseum in 2022. I am glad we did. Yasmin at Kong Heng is a place where people can learn about the life and work of Yasmin Ahmad. If you are ever in Ipoh, Newseum is a must-visit.

The museum also offers resources and inspiration to people who want to create their own films or commercials. The museum is small, but it is a vibrant space where the spirit of Yasmin Ahmad continues to live on.

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